Get first driver license in Japan! Driving lessons in English

driving lesson

photo by rok1966

As can be seen in the launch of new visa in April this year, the Japanese government has been implemented actions to enhance employments of foreign workforces. Accordingly, there are more job opportunities for foreign nationals who have completed their study or technical intern training in Japan. If you are one of such foreign workers, you may need to drive a motor vehicle while working in Japan. If you have already had a driver license issued in your country, you may be able to convert it in Japanese license. But if you have never had a driver license, or your driver license if not convertible to Japanese one, you will have to obtain Japanese driver license from scratch. In Japan, it is most common for non-drivers to go to driving school to get a driver license for the first time. But going to driving school can be a hard task if you are not fluent in Japanese. In such a case, there are driving schools that provide driving lessons in English.


Getting driver license in Japan

Every country imposes different conditions for issuance of a driver license according to its traffic regulations. Most common procedures outside Japan are to driving a vehicle on public roads under supervision of a fully licensed driver for a certain period of time, pass both of the practical and written test to obtain a driver license. You probably have seen leaner drivers’ vehicles on the road in your country. On the other hand, you can get a driver license just by passing the practical test, written test and eye sight test. There is no obligation to practice driving under supervision of a fully licensed driver. However, in reality, passing driving tests with no practice is not practical at all. Therefore, people who have no experience of driving normally go to driving school to learn how to drive.


Lessons at driving school

How driving lessons proceed may vary depending on the policy of each school. But normally, most schools follow the two steps below. 


Your first goal at a driving school is obtaining a temporary license. You will attend both practical driving lessons and lectures in a classroom. While lecture style lessons are designed to teach about Japanese traffic regulations, driving lessons are held in a training course within the school. You will  acquire a temporary driver license if you pass the driving skill test and written exam that are held at the end of Step1. These tests are normally held at each driving school.   


After successfully completing Step1, you will proceed to advanced lessons which are held on the public roads. In Step2 driving lessons, you will learn more practical skills under supervision of an instructor. Also, lecture style lessons continue to learn about more regulations. At the end of Step2, your driving skill will be examined by the instructor. By successfully completing this exam by instructor, you will be granted as an adequately skilled driver, therefore will be exempt from a driving test at a license center. This is the final procedure you will attend in the driving school. 

Unlike the case of temporary license, the written exam of full license must be held at a license center or local police station. A majority of prefectures provide the written exam of full license in English.


Driving schools providing lessons in English

Normally, driving lessons in Japanese driving schools are only available in Japanese language. However, there are a few driving schools that provide lessons in English for people who are not confident to have lessons in Japanese. As a common rule, you are required to make a booking to attend a lesson. 

Ogikubo Driving School
Just 1-minute walk from Ogikubo station of all JR Chuo Line, Sobu Line, Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, Marunouchi Line. Another school is available in Saitama city. 

FCA Driving School
They are dedicated to provide multi-lingual services. There are staff who can speak Chinese and Koran in addition to English. This school suits best for people who with to acquire a license as soon as possible, as they impose no limit for the number of lessons per day.   

Koyama Driving School
They have 4 schools in Tokyo and one in Yokohama. Free shuttle buses are available from many stops within the central Tokyo to each school. 

Kiki Driving School
A private instructor provides driving lessons with care. All driving lessons will be held at Samezu Driving Test Course.


Safe driving!

Language barrier is still bothering foreign residents living in Japan. But driving schools may be exception. There are many schools that provide lessons in English. Also, in most prefectures, the written exams of driver license are available in English. This is very convenient for young people who came to Japan without a driver license before they turned legal age for driving, as they may be able to understand complicated regulations and driving techniques better. If you are not confident to have driving lessons in Japanese language, why not try these English speaking lessons?


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あきらことほ Kotoho Akira

Living outside Japan for a good many years, I often rediscover nice little things about this country every time I return here. I would be more than happy if this column may help you find your "nice little things about Japan"!

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